Following the NFL Combine, plus the first waves of Free Agency and pro-days, the NFL Draft picture has become slightly less murky. This greater clarity extends to the Seattle Seahawks. We already knew that the Seahawks are going to trade down; but John Schneider all-but-admitted it at his presser in Indianapolis. The type of franchise Seattle would look to deal with was also already apparent.
Yet, until this point, we haven’t had a strong idea of individual teams. Armed with more information, here are the 5 positions that will have Front Offices calling John Schneider about moving up in the 2019 NFL Draft.
It’s unfathomable for Ed Oliver to fall to #21. But the Clemson products of EDGE rusher Clelin Ferril and interior rusher Christian Wilkins certainly might. The “fear of missing out” category would apply here, with an EDGE rusher at #21 potentially being the last on that tier. Additionally, a team might want to start a “positional run” on the next group of interior defensive linemen.
The Indianapolis Colts somewhat addressed their need at perimeter quarterback hunter by signing Justin Houston in Free Agency. Furthermore, General Manager Chris Ballard has shown himself to like having lots of picks in the late 1st to early 2nd range. However, Wilkins or Ferrill might tempt him.
A lot of teams at the back-end of the draft—such as the Los Angeles Chargers (#28), the Houston Texans (#23), the Kansas City Chiefs (#29) and the Oakland Raiders (#24+#27)—have a large need on the defensive line. A game of chicken between the teams may lead to one club blinking and trading up into the #21 spot to fill their need at the position.
This is a historically talented tight end class. I’ve previously described it as “Mariana Trench-deep”. That won’t stop one team wanting to get the #1 guy at the position though. Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson is an exhilarating prospect, but there’s a strong chance he will still be available at #21.
The obvious candidate for this move is the New England Patriots. The recent retirement of future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski appeared to take the Patriots by surprise, with their Press Relations department not having a prepared statement. Though Martellus Bennett wants the chance to play with his brother Michael, the Pats are still light at the position.
A race for tight end could form with the Oakland Raiders, themselves needing a tight end after Jared Cook departed in Free Agency.
Jon Gruden on TE Jared Cook: “It’s sickening to think we lost that guy. ...Darren Waller is very interesting. We’re going to give him a chance of a lifetime.” Raiders expected to draft a tight end next month.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 26, 2019
The Houston Texans at #23 adds another incentive for a team to jump up to #21 to nab Hockenson, given the Texans lack a true stud at the position. Even if Hockenson isn’t there, Noah Fant, also a former Hawkeye, could still entice.
The Baltimore Ravens at #22 have a strong need at wide receiver. Currently, Willie Snead IV is listed as the #1 receiver on the depth chart and only the most ardent of fantasy football players would notice the rest of the names. Helping second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson take the next step as a passer is essential to Baltimore’s offensive success.
The Kansas City Chiefs love adding receiving talent and Tyreek Hill’s future is full of doubt following offseason reports of domestic battery. To ensure the Chiefs get ‘their guy’, trading ahead of the Ravens would be a smart move.
Interior Offensive Line
The makeup of the draft means that taking an offensive tackle at #21 would likely be considered a reach rather than falling at the backend of the first tier. The deep interior offensive line may only just be starting when the Seahawks are on the clock though.
The Houston Texans, who pick at 23, had an abomination of an offensive line in 2018, even with Deshaun Watson sacking himself on occasions. One spot ahead of them, the Ravens need IOL help too. Right guard Marshal Yanda is ageing. Though center Matt Skura was decent, the left guard spot looks less certain. If athletic NC State center Garrett Bradburry slips past the Tennessee Titans, he surely won’t fall past a race at #21.
Being at #21 might be a tad early for a team looking to take the next tier of passers. Furthermore, if the Raiders don’t go quarterback at #4 do they even want one? Still, there is a scenario which sees a team trade up to #21 to take a signal caller. A Front Office may be concerned that the Los Angeles Chargers are seeking a Philip Rivers replacement, or that the Raiders will take a passer later in the first.
If the New York Giants took an offensive tackle and an EDGE rusher with their #6 and #17 selections, they could then trade their second-round pick (#37) and more to move up for Daniel Jones or Will Grier. A more likely, less expensive scenario is Seattle’s second trade down being with a quarterback-needy team. This type of Front Office would want to trade back into the first round to get the fifth-year option on the rookie contract—invaluable for a quarterback.
In addition to the New York Giants, the Miami Dolphins—seemingly in full rebuild mode—may want to take their shot at a passer later. “Tanking for Tua” is likely to become a chant but bringing Grier back to the state of Florida would be sensible. Add the Denver Broncos to this list if they shock everyone and pass on Drew Lock. Would the Cincinnati Bengals look to find an Andy Dalton upgrade here?
There are complications with this being a second trade down. The Broncos’ 2nd rounder is 9 picks into the 2nd; The Bengals’ 2nd rounder is 10 picks into the 2nd; and the Dolphins’ pick is 13 selections into the 2nd round. Worse, the 3rd round pick Seattle would receive would be terrible regarding the Giants and mediocre from the Dolphins. Highlighting it on the Jimmy Johnson value chart, the Broncos and the Bengals are the best deals with the Dolphins fitting the value chart the most.
It’s true that the strength of this draft is in the late first round to the second. That will make moving down from #21 trickier for the Seahawks, but it’s still achievable thanks to the positions highlighted above. One double-trade down scenario would be this:
- Seattle trades down from #21 (1st round) to #29 (1st round) with Kansas City for 3rd and 6th round picks.
- Seattle trades down from #29 (1st round) to #41 (2nd round) with the Denver Broncos for 2nd and 3rd round picks.
- Seattle has: 2nd round #41; 3rd round #71, #84 and #94; 4th round #124, 5th round #159
- 1, 3, 4, 5 becomes 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5
This looks rather bleak but leaves the Seahawks with room to move back up in the second round (they hate fourth round picks) or be aggressive in the third. I could also see Seattle trading their 4th round pick to gain extra day 3 selections:
- Seattle trades down from #21 (1st round) to #32 (1st round) with New England for 3rd and 6th round picks.
- Seattle trades down from #124 (4th round) with the Pittsburgh Steelers gaining 5th and 6th round picks.
- Seattle has: 1st round #32, 3rd round #73 and #84, 5th round #141 and #159, 6th round #192
- 1, 3, 4, 5 becomes 1, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6